Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu could face prison spell

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell could face prison time for alleged tax evasion.

In a statement released on Monday, Spain’s prosecutor has called for jail terms of more than two years for Bartomeu and over seven years for Rosell for the tax fraud case, which includes the signing of Neymar.

The prosecutor has also called for the club itself to be fined 22,202,750 euros ($24 million) for allegedly false accounting in the tax returns of 2011, 2013 and 2014.

The two men and the club are charged with tax fraud and Rosell is also accused of accounting irregularities over his time in charge.

Following months of investigation, a Spanish judge must now consider whether the case should go to trial.

The judge, Pablo Ruz, said 10 days ago after completing his investigation that the two defendants were suspected of three counts of tax fraud worth a total of 13 million euros ($13.6 million), relating to the signing of the Brazilian striker in 2013.

The club has said it paid 57 million euros overall to sign Neymar from Brazilian club Santos, but the judge suspects the real amount was more than 83 million euros.

But Ruz said the various contracts produced “were designed to cover or hide the fact that in reality they represented a higher cost for Barcelona” in order to “avoid or significantly reduce the money paid to the tax authorities”.

Bartomeu denied all responsibility when he appeared before an examining magistrate investigating the matter last month.